Pa. college bans porn, gambling sites

January 14, 2008 8:09:07 AM PST
St. Vincent College has blocked pornography and gambling Web sites from residence hall computers since August 2006, but some on the Roman Catholic college's campus say they learned of it only recently. Jim Towey, the college's president and former director of the Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives with the Bush administration, introduced a policy of filtering out the sites on those computers shortly after taking office.

The filtering was not announced, and some say they were unaware of it before the appearance late this fall of fliers posted anonymously on campus and a blog by Towey defending his decision.

Towey said the proliferation of pornography, some hard core and violent, is degrading and potentially addictive to those who view it.

"I realize that we are in the minority of Catholic colleges and universities, but I like where we are," he said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I think our Catholic identity and mission compel us to give this witness to our students that our community is not going to be complicit in this spreading of pornography."

Towey said he has received dozens of supportive comments, but also noted that he had critics, including someone who has been posting fliers on the campus of 1,900 students asking, "Is Mr. Towey our parent, or the college president?"

The idea arose in July 2006, three weeks after Towey arrived from the White House. A memo from the school's dean of students about computer misuse on campuses - particularly the downloading of pornography - sought Towey's authorization to use vendor-supplied software to filter out that material.

Towey said he weighed the moral and academic implications with campus monks, professors and administrators before making his decision.

The filtering system does not affect classroom computer labs, the library, faculty offices or wireless networks on the St. Vincent campus.


Information from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,